The man behind last week’s controversial PR blacklisting debate has written a piece attempting to explain why it happened and how the PR games process works.
Last week US PR agency The Redner Group openly stated on Twitter that it would blacklist – as in, stop sending review code – any writer which it felt was unduly harsh to 2K Games’ Duke Nukem Forever.
In the storm that followed Redner was relieved of its duties by 2K.
Now in a piece on Wired, the firm’s boss Jim Redner has attempted to add some context to the saga.
"By now, many of you know the name theRednerGroup and the tweet I sent regarding Duke Nukem. I did what 15m people do every day, I vented on Twitter. It was a brain fart of epic proportions that registered on the social media Richter scale," he wrote.
"I was working late and received an e-mail from my former client, 2K, asking if I had seen one particularly negative review of Duke Nukem. I would like to stress that the e-mail from 2K only pointed out the diatribe. The e-mail did not contain covert instructions on how to post something insidious on Twitter.
"I read the review. It was a scathing diatribe masked as a review. Hate is a strong word, but I believe after reading his review it is fair to say that the reviewer hated the game. Everyone is entitled to voice their opinion, but I would like to believe journalists adhere to some standards of fairness and professionalism, even when publishing a negative review.
"Opinions are never wrong. Reviews, when backed by fact, are always correct regardless of the score. The reviewer’s story was downright mean spirited. It’s as if the reviewer had a grudge and finally found an outlet to unleash his hostile brand of negativity.
"I overreacted when I read the review and I vented on Twitter. It was an act of passion on my part that lacked objectivity. In my opinion, someone had gone over the top to attack the game and those who spent their lives trying to make it. Ultimately, I committed a cardinal sin in marketing."
Redner also goes to great lengths to try and justify both the way he and games PR in general often operates and the perception of him that has resulted from the controversy.
"First and foremost, I do not support the McCarthy era notion of blacklisting," he insisted. "My tweet was not some social media form of the Waldorf Statement. I never used the word blacklist in my tweet.
"Publishers are under no obligation to send out copies of their game for review. They reserve the right to pick and choose who they want to send their game to, just like writers have the right to publish a review in any manner they choose. It’s call selection. It’s a choice.
"Hopefully all PR professionals make their selections based on any and all data available. They should weigh past coverage, personal information gathered from conversations and past dealings. I personally have sent first person shooter games to one editor knowing that he likes FPS games, but then not sent him a copy of a game based on our national pastime because I know he finds baseball boring. That’s not blacklisting. It’s a selection process.
"It is my job to generate consumer awareness and excitement through positive media attention in order to drive sales. I had handpicked certain key editors that I felt would enjoy the game for what it is. I based my selections on previous coverage and personal conversations. It is a selection process. The idea was to generate the highest possible cumulative scores for the game at launch. Consumer interest in a product tends to peak at launch.
"Of course, a writer can publish whatever he wants, but it doesn’t mean that he or she should be entirely exempt from consequences. Actions always have consequences.
"It is not a publisher’s job to blindly send out product to everyone for review. Just because you are writer does not mean that you are entitled to a free copy of the game for review. You are entitled to publish your review in any way you see fit, just as publishers have the same right to pick and choose who receives the game to review. Please remember, there are other ways to get a copy of the game for review. You can always buy it."